What is the Trinity Ability co_op?

The Trinity Ability co_op is a cooperative movement led by disabled students in Trinity College Dublin towards radical inclusion on campus. The co_op is made up of undergraduate and postgraduate Trinity students who avail of support from the Disability Service, and those who identify as disabled, deaf, or neurodiverse. We provide opportunities for members to work together towards inclusion in Trinity.

Find out more about the structure of the Trinity Ability co_op, its student partnership with the Disability Service, and its goals in the Trinity Ability co_op constitution.

Where is the Trinity Ability co_op?

The Trinity Ability co-op will be based within the Trinity disAbility Hub in the new Printing House Square building. The co_op space will be student-run and can be used for meetings, project work, and events. For more information on the Printing House Square development please visit the Printing House Square webpage.

What kind of projects is the Co-op working on?

The Trinity Ability co_op is student-led, and all projects and activities are proposed and mutually agreed upon by its members. From media campaigns to creative workshops, we can all contribute and work together towards enhancing inclusion in Trinity. Our projects for this year include:

  • Creating a clear and accepted identity for disability support in Trinity.
  • Ensuring that students have a say in what the disAbility Hub will do and how it will function.
  • Creating Media content to give students with disabilities a platform to share their stories.
  • Opening space to the disability community for out-of-hours use e.g. Autism social groups, and disabled activist meeting spaces.
  • Improving the Assistive Technology spaces in Libraries.
  • Ensuring that room spaces remain student-centered.

Why should I get involved?

Members of the Trinity Ability co_op have the opportunity to ensure that their voices are heard, and they can take ownership of inclusive practice across the Trinity community. The co_op is also a great platform for developing skills and gathering experience that is beneficial for personal and academic development, as well as future employability. Participating in the co_op provides opportunities for individuals to develop in areas such as communication, teamwork, networking, and leadership. Not only is participating in the co_op beneficial for the development of personal skills, graduate attributes, and career readiness, but it’s also a great opportunity to contribute to Civic Engagement in Trinity. This enhances eligibility for accolades such as the Dean of Students Leadership Award.

How can I join the Trinity Ability co_op?

Membership in the Trinity Ability co_op is open to anyone who is interested in contributing. You don’t need to have any particular skills or previous experience. Simply contact abilitycoop@gmail.com to express your interest, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Mission and Goals

The Trinity Ability co_op is a cooperative movement by students with disabilities towards radical inclusion on campus. We work in partnership with Trinity’s Disability service to ensure that inclusion is a priority in Trinity.

Mission

  • To make Trinity an inclusive environment for students with disabilities
  • To raise awareness of the challenges students with disabilities face on a day-to-day basis and how Trinity can best support us as students.
  • Create a safe space for students to discuss issues they are having or develop friendships with other students with disabilities.
  • Provide opportunities for students with disabilities.

Goals

  • Inclusion is widely discussed across campus and is a priority in academic teaching and within the student capitations.
  • Students with disabilities develop skills from the co_op, which will benefit them in the workforce, which they may have not previously gotten the opportunity to create.
  • Have students with disabilities present in board discussions and included in conversations about changes in Trinity.
  • Raise awareness of issues faced by students with disabilities on a National Level and lobby to ensure that we are supported in Higher Education.

Trinity and the Social Model of Disability

 There are different ways of looking at disability. Typically, disability is viewed through the lens of the medical model. According to this model, people are disabled by their impairments. Disability is an individual problem that needs to be fixed via therapy and other medical intervention. The disabled person must learn how to function and fit in with a ‘normal’ society. 

 By contrast, the social model says that disability is created because of the environment. A disabled person is disabled because they live in a world that does not cater to their impairment. The onus is on society to change and adapt as opposed to the disabled person. For example, a Deaf student is not disabled by their Deafness but by the fact that information is not presented in an accessible way. A person who stammers is not disabled by their speech impediment but by society’s attitude regarding fluent speech. 

One of the advantages of the social model is that it empowers us to change the disabling barriers in the environment. Because they are believed to originate in the environment they can be changed. This contrasts with the medical model, which can be disempowering for the disabled person, blaming their disability on an impairment that cannot be changed. 

Read More about Trinity and the Social Model of Disability.

Trinity disAbility Hub opens in October 2022 in Printing House Square. This square the first new square in over a hundred years intends to be an inclusive space. Trinity Disability Service is committed to the Social Model of Disability. This is dynamic and effective in that it focuses on barriers and solutions to such barriers and, in doing so, maps out an approach to inclusion and equality that is of benefit to society, not just Disabled people. 

 The social model of disability and co-production share the same values. Disabled students are working together with university staff and decision-makers to actively identify, design, and evaluate policy decisions and service delivery that affect our lives and remove the barriers we face. 

Our world is becoming increasingly diverse and ever more interconnected. Disabled people are not a homogenous group. We now have more access, we are now participating in university life, and we want to be more inclusive and belong. 

 To be fully engaged community members in the 21st century, we need to embrace diversity & inclusion. In the classroom, in the workplace, in clubs and societies – indeed, in all aspects 

of life – we must be able to navigate differences, develop empathy and continue to learn the value of engagement with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and perceptions.

Video Description – The Social Model of Disability

Ross Coleman is a Disabled Graduate Intern with the Trinity Inclusive Curriculum Project (Trinity INC) at Trinity College Dublin. Ross talks about the Social Model of Disability, how Trinity subscribes to the Social Model of Disability, and the different ways of looking at disability.

The Social Model of Disability

Identity and Language

Language and identity can be sensitive subjects with many people holding strong opinions. This is especially true when it comes to talking about disability. Here in the Disability Service, we use the term disabled student(s) as opposed to the term ‘student(s) with disabilities.’ This is because we subscribe to the social model. According to the social model, people are disabled by living in a society that does not cater to their impairment. These can take the form of environmental barriers or disabling attitudes. For example, a neurodiverse person is disabled not by being neurodiverse but by societal structures which favour neurotypical people. 

The term ‘disabled students’ reflects this model. It recognizes that disability is a result of people living in a disabling environment as opposed to something that is inherently wrong with the disabled person (as would be suggested by the medical model.) Having said this, we recognize that language is a personal choice and that students are free to use the language that best suits them. Our use of the term ‘disabled students’ simply reflects the philosophy of the Service and is by no means prescriptive. 

Video Description – Disability and Identity – First Language

In this video, Trinity INC Graduate Intern Ross Coleman explains why the Disability Service uses the term ‘Disabled Students’.

Language and Identity

Please visit the Disability Service DDServiceTCD YouTube Channel to view more videos.